7 ways you can immediately improve Midday Supervisor engagement

Posted by Paul Aagaard · 6 min read · 16 comments

Creating restaurant style lunchtimes is a good way of getting MDSAs to engage more effectively with children.

Do you feel your Midday Supervisors (MDSAs) engage with children inappropriately and only engage when they have to? Do they spend most of their time washing, wiping and wandering around talking to their colleagues and are they inconsistent in how they apply your behaviour policy?

If so, children are likely to come back into class upset. This creates two problems. Firstly, the children aren’t ready to learn again in afternoon lessons, and secondly they are likely to talk about unresolved lunchtime incidents which lead to lost learning minutes for everyone in the class.

From a child’s viewpoint this is confusing and unsettling. In the classroom everything is clear and any concerns are dealt with very quickly, but not at lunchtime. This is because MDSAs, unlike teachers, aren’t trained and don’t know how to deal with children who are upset. They often learn on the job and end up reacting emotionally to children’s concerns. Responses like “how dare you argue with me” or “hurry up and finish your dinner” are typical and make the situation worse, not better.

I have been running Midday Supervisor training programmes for the last ten years and have discovered that they are very motivated by being introduced to a few positive behaviour techniques. Explaining why a focus on the first behaviour and not the second will quickly stop inappropriate behaviour is one good example. Using ‘thank you’ rather than ‘please’ as a way to respectfully ask a child to do what you want them to do is another. These techniques to manage behaviour together with a practical demonstration of playground games and how to create a restaurant style lunchtime environment is a good way of getting lunchtime supervisors to engage more effectively with children. Here is a summary of the strategies I have successfully used.

7 ways to improve Midday Supervisor engagement

1. Lunchtime charter

Schools councils often say they think their MDSAs are kind, but they really don’t like it when one contradicts the other. “It’s not fair if one dinner lady reports us to a teacher and another isn’t reported for doing the same thing”.

MDSAs need help in applying their school’s behaviour policy, which is often not easy to read and assimilate. To make it more accessible I have helped schools draft their own lunchtime charter with a series of specific lunchtime behaviours and the agreed consequences. In other schools a zero-tolerance approach has been taken when it comes to any serious inappropriate behaviour with immediate consequences and no warnings. The training is a very useful way to identify and agree as a team what these behaviours are.

2. Positive behaviour techniques

Confidence in dealing with lunchtime incidents is improved once the MDSA understands three key behaviour principles. Firstly a focus on what you want the child to do and not stop doing. (It’s so easy to say “will you stop shouting at me please” if a child is arguing with you rather than “I would like you to speak quietly. Thank you”.) Secondly the use of short, very understandable sentences. For example, at the end of lunchtime saying something like “Y2 line-up. Thank you” is commanding, respectful and authoritative. Thirdly, to partially agree and distract as a way to avoid a power struggle.

3. Changing aspirations

MDSAs end up spending far too much time washing and wiping in the dining hall and being reactive in the playground when there is an incident rather than proactive. There are three reasons why this happens:

  1. A lot of MDSAs start work with no training and perceive their job is primarily about cleaning up after the children and helping to deal with trips and falls in the playground.
  2. Washing and wiping is easy and it’s a comfort zone that requires no effort.
  3. Lunchtime provision in many schools is so chaotic that MDSAs are forced to spend most of their time managing the ebb and flow of children coming into and out of the dining room. There is little time to effectively engage with the children irrespective of whether they want to or not.

Although cleaning is part of a MDSAs role they should be spending most of their time engaging with the children to encourage eating, to listen to what they have to say, to teach good table manners and to facilitate playground games. It’s possible to change this perception and raise MDSA aspirations once three key objectives have been addressed:

  1. They understand and are confident in using some of the behaviour techniques mentioned in point 2.
  2. They are in charge of a lunchtime system that is conducive to socialising and children are motivated to eat better, eat together and engage in conversation.
  3. They don’t walk around with a cloth in one hand and a jug of water in the other all the time. Instead they should walk around looking for children to praise and reward; looking for those that need encouragement to eat their dinner and looking for those who struggle to use a knife and fork properly.

4. Pupil respect

MDSAs often complain that children don’t respect them. “You're only a dinner lady, my Mum says you can’t tell me what to do” is an uncomfortable but harsh reflection of how some children perceive MDSAs. However, from the eyes of a child if they spend most of their time wiping and washing they will see them as waitresses/waiters. It’s very difficult therefore for MDSAs to assert their authority when needed because children don’t think it’s what they are employed to do.

School leaders can change this perception by getting the whole school to recognise that the lunchtime supervisor role is primarily about being a counsellor to listen, a teacher to help reinforce PSHE messages around friendship and socialisation, a health promoter to talk about a balanced diet (which includes a bit of chocolate) and a play worker to facilitate games. Cleaning and first aid is a small part of what they should be doing.

To achieve this that means school leaders have to get MDSAs talking to school council about their views and opinions on lunchtime provision, to ask them to present any appropriate lunchtime awards in assemblies and to ensure children see that any behaviour decisions made by them are supported by teachers as part of a well communicated lunchtime charter in the classroom.

5. Engaging through play

Children often start play fighting in the playground. Someone then gets hurt accidentally and MDSAs end up managing conflict and administering first aid. This can so easily be avoided if MDSAs were more proactive about getting children to engage in a series of simple games.

Using the strategy of distraction and armed with no more equipment than a few balls MDSAs can choreograph some games for at least a dozen children. Start in a circle and teach a few ball based games such as hot potato (passing a ball quickly around the circle) or guard your gate (trying to roll a ball between people’s legs which are placed wide apart). To maintain interest make the games harder by, for example, introducing two balls or in the case of hot potato changing ball direction. You could then split the circle into two teams and start to play games such as up and over ( ball over the head of one person and under the feet of the next) or number bounce (children given a number in their teams and when a ball is thrown and their number is called they have to run and get it). To calm children down in readiness for afternoon lessons ask then to make a circle again and play games like keeper of the keys (one person closes their eyes and holds a bunch of keys. Another child is nominated to collect the keys and the keeper of the keys has to then guess who did it.)

6. Lunchtime provision

For MDSAs to effectively engage with children you have to create a restaurant style environment so children have enough time to eat and they can sit with their friends. This is achievable by creating a series of set sittings where everyone knows who they will be sitting with, when they will be sitting with them and for how long. But can this be done in a large school with a one hour lunch break? Yes it can. It just needs some classroom style planning to create friendship groups, a seating plan, a strict timetable and consultations with your pupil voice, your caterers and of course your MDSAs.

7. Rewarding good behaviour

Rewarding good behaviour is a great way to change pupil perceptions of MDSAs. Walking into a dining hall or playground and giving out golden tickets that say ‘I am pleased with you because you chose to show good manners’ or ‘be helpful’ or ‘play well’ will get children to respect the MDSAs. However, to be effective and to make a sustainable impact they need to be linked to classroom rewards. If, for example, children are awarded house points then each golden card needs to come with a few house points too.

So, if you want your MDSAs to step up to the plate and effectively engage with the children then it’s important they benefit from some positive behaviour training and you review and audit your lunchtime provision. It may help avoid losing learning minutes in afternoon lessons and improve readiness to learning.

Paul Aagaard

Paul is a social entrepreneur who is passionate about improving safety and behaviour in schools by transforming lunchtimes. Working in partnership with caterers and local authorities to develop lunchtime improvement programmes, he helps schools ensure that children want to eat better, eat together, engage in good conversation and be more active.

16 comments

K Tillett

Have you got any handy hints/tips for end of lunchtime procedures? We have 450 children and at the moment a whistle is blown and then children line in their classes.

This is usually when little tussle occurs and can then impact on the afternoon’s learning.

Thank you for your advice

mrsrmarchant

I am a midday assistant supervisor and I have the role of getting lunchtime ready in our primary school,I think I do a good job and we do have things in place for good behavior of pupils in our school, but it is getting enough staff that can do it and the pupils respect, knowing what is going on in the school weekly instead on each day, also we get told the bad behavior in the classroom after lunchtime is because we are not doing our job right,well we can only do what we can in a short time and Midday assistant are just that, assistant pupils at lunchtime with eating and positive play ,if the pupils want to play, I feel pupils have enough time in time table lessons and lunchtime is for them to be free to decide what they want to do and Midday assistant are there to advice them the right way of doing things, not to say they have to do this and that.
Some of my midday assistant are great at setting up games,some I have to show what they need to do.
Over all my school is lucky to have so many midday assistiants but I still think there should be more.
I have always asked why more than staff in the classroom then at lunchtime, I have seen that One midday assistant per class of 25 pupils or more which is so wrong.

Paul Aagaard

Pupil respect, not knowing what's going on in school and being told about bad behaviour in afternoon lessons are concerns that are very frequently raised when I run my Midday Supervisor training. (Details of my training are on the home page of this Recipe for Change website)

Here are a few ideas and suggestions that I have used in schools to improve communication and behaviour

Rewarding good behaviour
Focus primarily on catching children when they are being good rather than trying to catch them out being bad. If children see you giving out lots of rewards they are much more likely to behave well so they get a reward too.

Managing lunchtime incidents
Teachers are trained to manage behaviour. Midday Supervisors aren't. It's not surprising therefore that children end up going into afternoon lessons talking about unresolved lunchtime incidents. Here's a three tied approach to deescalating incidents.

1. Partially agree.
Firstly, where ever possible try and agree or partially agree with children to appease them.
2. Reinforce behaviour expectations.
Secondly - if partially agreeing doesn't work - remind children who are engaging in inappropriate behaviour of the school rules.
3. Choices and consequences.
If agreeing and reinforcing behaviour expectations doesn't work encourage children to make the right choice and explain the consequences of making the wrong choice before asking for help from school leaders.

Behaviour policy - Make sure the children know that the Midday Supervisors know your school rules, your sanctions and your rewards. So you can adopt a zero tolerance approach I recommend you attach laminated cards of your school rules to lanyards.

Child well being book - Supervisors need to know about any children who are upset and who may need more support at lunchtime and they need to know about any children and staff who are absent. I recommend the school records all this information in a child well being book which Midday Supervisors can read each day.

These suggested solutions will only be effective if school leaders adopt a whole school approach - i.e they talk about any lunchtime rewards and the school rules in assembly, they talk about them in the classroom and they let parents know about any changes to how you manage your lunchtime provision.

I hope some of these ideas are useful. If you do try to implement any of them please let me know what impact they have.

dyan

I'm a mds in a primary school we are all finding the job increasingly harder to do as we are not allowed to speak to each other as you can imagine this makes dealing with the children hard has anybody else got the same rule and how do you deal with it .

Paul Aagaard

The concern (I suspect) is a perception that school leaders don't value your role as a Midday Supervisor and don't give you the advice and support needed to effectively manage children's behaviour. Not being able to talk with other Midday Supervisors isn't something I have ever come across and I am surprised any school would agree to this.
Managing behaviour at lunchtime can be challenging because children want to "let off steam" and end up falling out with each other. It's important therefore that you know how to deescalate any lunchtime incident and you can discuss what's happened with your colleagues. Deescalating lunchtime incidents is all about getting children to listen. I have detailed a three tied approach in my earlier comments to this blog post. Just scroll up to see them.

Communicating what's happened at lunchtime needs to be shared with the other Midday Supervisors and school leaders. If this doesn't happen then, as you said, it will become increasingly difficult to manage behaviour. Teachers should give you feedback about any lunchtime sanctions and rewards. If it's a sanction, what actually happened in the afternoon class and how did that child respond?

One of the key outcomes of my training is to give Midday Supervisors a voice, to listen and to develop a wish list of things you want changed. Sounds as if this could be useful for your school. Let me know the name of your school and I will contact your headteacher.

Mamta Arora

I am about to complete my level 3 diploma in Specialist support for teaching and learning in school. I have 15 years experience with children of all age in boarding schools of India .
I wish to work as MDSA as I have good experience and confidence to deal with children at lunchtime .

Paul Aagaard

Schools need experienced and confident adults to manage children's behaviour at lunchtime so your interest in becoming a Midday Supervisor will be welcomed. Children are usually very clear about behaviour expectations in the classroom but at lunchtime it all goes a bit pear shaped. This is because most Midday Supervisors aren't trained to deal with behaviour and the lunchtime systems are often chaotic. So many school dining halls I visit feel like feeding stations - long queues, very noisy and children not being given enough time to eat. The playground is no better with large groups of children huddled onto a tarmac area because their risk averse health and safety policy says they can't play on grass if it's a little damp!
If you get employed by a school that hasn't got good lunchtime provision then you will end up becoming a traffic warden in the dining room herding children in and out of the dining room and a police officer outside telling children to get off the grass. With schools like this - and there are lots of them - you will find it extremely difficult to manage behaviour however experienced you are. Make sure when applying for a Midday Supervisor job that the school has got good lunchtime systems. Here's a few questions to ask which might help.
Do children sit in friendship groups at lunchtime or do they sit wherever there is a space? ( If children know where they are sitting, who they are sitting with and at what time they are happy. If they can't sit with their friends this increases congestion and noise as they wander around the hall trying to find someway to sit)
Do packed lunch eaters and school meal eaters sit together or are they separated? (If they are separated that means children who eat school meals can't sit with any of their friends who eat school meals)
Does the school inform Midday Supervisors about children who have been upset in the morning and may need more support at lunchtime, about any child or adult who is absent and about any new children or staff?
Does the school have any lunchtime buddies and monitors? If so how does this work? Some schools appoint children to be waiters and waitresses in the dining room. This means Midday Supervisors have more time to engage with the children as the waiters and waitress can deal with most of the washing and wiping.
Does the school have a well established lunchtime rewards programme and are they linked to class rewards? For example if the school has a house points system can the children earn house points at lunchtime?
Does the school feel their Midday Supervisors are clear about the school rules, sanctions and rewards? If the children know that Midday Supervisors don't know the rules then it's impossible to manage behaviour.
What is the playground provision like? Is there a wide variety of activities, do they have play leaders and are they happy for children to take some risk? - e.g. play on damp grass and, with the right clothing, climb trees etc. If you feel the school is risk averse recommend they consider looking at an excellent evidence based playground programme I work with called OPAL ( Outdoor Play and Learning) www.outdoorplayandlearning.org.uk

Hope this helps. Please keep me updated so I can continue to provide more advice and guidance to you and any other Midday Supervisor that reads these blog comments.

Elle Kay

Thank you for this, it has been very helpful. As a Senior Midday Supervisor with 11 years experience It is my job to motivate my team and I am often looking for new ways to get my team more involved in playing with the children.
Most Midday Supervisors have no training when they start the job and more often than not are mum's of children at the school they work at.
It is often left to the team leader /senior to provide training and show them the way the school wants us to engage with the children.
You have provided some great ideas and have hit the nail on the head with your knowledge of how a MDS works within a school. Our role is often misunderstood by the pupils & the parents and I have personally experienced the "My dad says we don't have to do what you say" statement on several occasions.
The hardest part of the job that I have personally had to learn to deal with is complaints from parents.
It is not always a schools health & safety policy that stops us allowing children onto the grass when it is damp at lunchtimes, it is the amount of complaints from parents we get because their child has wet feet or wet clothes (because they have fallen over). So it becomes playground only when it has rained, which is unfair on the children.
All in all it is a very rewarding job and most days the children make the job fun.

Paul Aagaard

Thanks so much for your positive comments. I am glad you found some of my suggestions helpful.

Comments from children such as "my dad says we don't have to do what you say" are completely unacceptable and demonstrate that the school's behaviour policy is ineffective. Here are a few ideas I have tried which may help.

Produce laminated cards of your school rules, sanctions and rewards and attach them to MDS lanyards. If children start to behaviour inappropriately MDSs can say "the school rule says, for example, you can't play football here" rather than "I am saying you can't play football here". This avoids the discussion getting personal and stops the conversation escalating into a power struggle. So what you say is important but it's only going to work if school leaders adopt a whole school approach to lunchtime. That means talking about lunchtime sanctions and rewards on a regular basis in whole school assemblies so children are clear that good and bad behaviour will be dealt with in the same way as it's dealt with in the classroom.

Parents won’t complain if the school actively engages them with issues that they are concerned about. Lots of schools are good at parent involvement but not parent engagement. So what’s the difference? When we involve parents the ideas and energy tend to come from the schools and from government policy. As a result, school staff can fall into the role of a social worker who does things for parents, or who tends to tell them what they should be doing with their child. When schools engage with parents they are challenged to do something about what they feel is important to them. (Have a look at this excellent blog entitled “parent involvement or parent engagement?”
http://www.learningfirst.org/LarryFerlazzoParentEngagement#sthash.Syp3MVKH.dpuf

So if parents at your school are complaining about children coming home in wet clothes then I suggest they are invited to help the school develop a play policy. This will involve parents in a debate about their attitude to risk and health and safety. Schools that have done this as part of the OPAL programme - Outdoor Play and Learning - now have outstanding play provision. www.outdoorplayandlearning.org.uk

Have a look at this great video shot over 20 minutes in a single lunchtime at Beacon Rise Primary School in Bristol. This is probably the best school in the country for play; this type of outstanding quality does not happen by accident, it is the result of six years of development led by Chris Thomas the head, supported and advised by Michael Follett from OPAL and realised by the fantastic play team at the school.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=x3s83qVp0mE
www.outdoorplayandlearning.org.uk


Just like parents, teachers need to be engaged too. I know they aren’t contractually obliged to be engaged at lunchtime, but it will help them, help the children and help you. If they don’t, children are much more likely to talk about unresolved lunchtime incidents in afternoon lessons. I have talked to some teachers who say they are forced to spend 5 – 10 minutes a day dealing with this “low level disruption”. So how can teaches engage with lunchtime? Firstly, they need to recognise that although lunchtime is children’s free time it needs to be organised and structured just like the classroom. If, for example, infant children are supposed to arrive in the dining hall by 12.00 then classroom teachers need to make sure their lessons finish on time. If they arrive late, children will feel rushed, they won’t have time to eat and won’t be ready to learn in afternoon lessons. Teachers need to respect lunchtime and appreciate that the knock on effect of finishing morning classes late could be bad for them as well as the children. If Ofsted observed a teacher talking about lunchtime incidents in an afternoon lesson, it’s impossible for that teacher to be graded good.

Secondly, teachers need to consider eating with the children sometimes. School council always say to me they like it if their teachers eat lunch with them. Having a social conversation over lunch is likely to provide teachers with new and useful information about their children which they may never reveal in the classroom.

Thirdly, teachers need to provide you with some constructive feedback about your own engagement with children as and when they are in the playground and dining hall. Many MDSs say to me that teachers just walk past them and don’t even say hello. In some cases, MDSs report that teachers don’t even know their names and they get referred to as “that lady”. Seeing teachers working alongside you and backing you up will help ensure that children do respect you, listen to you and respond appropriately when you are dealing with either good or bad behaviour.

I do hope you find these ideas helpful. Please continue to give me feedback about your job and the challenges you face so I can share more best practice advice.


Joy

I am looking for a course for special school midday supervisors - we train our MDS fully in medical and continence aspects of the role but tend to just let them muddle through with the usual play aspect of lunchtime supervision. Would you be able to recommend a training session that would be appropriate for our middays who support pupils with challenging needs from ages 5 - 19?

Sharon donnelly

I am a midday supervisor, mostly im in charge of 64 pupils taking packed lunch. I have no help with this.Is this allowed

Paul Aagaard

There is no official advice on how many adults should be in charge of pupils during lunch and other breaks. The NUT (National Union of Teachers) in their Playground Supervision guidance state that "schools are seen to be the best places to assess the local risk and to put in enough competent supervisors to manage the risks. Here's the link to this advice. http://www.teachers.org.uk/files/supervision_of_pupils.doc

Furthermore, as teachers can't be directed to supervisor pupils during the midday break what can you do when asked to look after 64 packed lunch eaters?

Here's a few suggestions that may help.

1. Pupil advocates - Although your job will include some washing and wiping it's very difficult to engage with the children at the same time. You should be spending most of your time encouraging children to eat, listening to what they have to say and teaching them good manners. Children love to help, so I recommend you consider asking them to become waiters and waitresses. Duties will include opening food packaging and wiping tables. This will free you up to engage more and make it easier to spot those children who need more encouragement to both eat their dinner and socialise. To make sure this job is perceived as a privilege and not a chore it's important that children are provided with professional uniforms, given rewards and some training.

2. Lunchtime charter - If in the classroom children throw their pens and exercise books on the floor there is likely to be a consequence. But in the dining hall if children throw food on the floor and lose cutlery in the bin they often get away with it. That's why it's so difficult being a Midday Supervisor. Children are letting off steam and think (wrongly) that they can do what they want. Recommend you speak to school leaders about the children developing a lunchtime charter of all the rules they are happy to follow. Once agreed the school leaders then need to make sure, like classroom rules, that children are rewarded for following them or sanctioned if they don't.

3. Minimum time to eat - Make sure your lunchtime charter includes a minimum time to eat. If fast eaters are allowed to gobble a few mouthfuls and rush out to play then their slow eating friends are likely to rush out with them. If children have 20 minutes to eat then I recommend all children should eat together for at least 15 minutes before they are allowed to leave.

4. Set sitting - Try and establish a series of set sittings so you know exactly how many children are in the dining hall and how many are in the playground at any one time. If you know for example there are going to be 80 children in the playground from 12.00 to 12.30 and no more children will start arriving until 12.25 it's much easier to manage. If, as many schools do, you operate a continuous service where children are constantly coming into and out of the playground and dining hall you end up becoming a traffic warden and can't engage properly.

Just written another blog, published on this website, called "what makes a good lunchtime supervisor" which might be useful to read.

Julie

Hi
Really enjoyed reading this Paul and will take your ideas on board. I have been a midday supervisor for 4 years and recently become supervisor of 5 smsa’s in reception year playground of 150 children. Would be grateful for any advise with getting children to eat as in September when they start some of the children have never eaten most of the food we provide and get very upset. It’s very daunting for a 4 year old and would like my staff to all be able to help and encourage these children.

Paul Aagaard

Thanks so much for your positive feedback. Here are a few suggestions on encouraging children to eat.

Food Heroes
I am a father of three primary school aged children. If one of them eats something and they say its yucky, guess what. The other two won’t eat it. But if one of them says it’s yummy the others are much more likely to eat it. What children’s friends say about the food has a much more powerful impact on them than what adults say. I have introduced the idea of Food Heroes into schools where you invite children to try the entire school meal menu (typically a 3 or 4 week cycle) and get them to share their thoughts with other children at lunch time, in assembly and in class. Children volunteer to be Food Heroes and are seated next to children who are fussy eaters to encourage them to try new foods.

Waiting for friends
Children often throw their dinner away not because they don’t like it but because their friends don’t wait for them. For Early Years the dining room can be very scary so it’s important the environment is conducive to eating and socialising. It takes 20 minutes for the tummy to tell the brain you are either full up or still hungry. I recommend therefore that everyone siting on a table together eats and socialises for 20 minutes before any one can leave. This is what you would do in a restaurant so it’s important we teach children this important discipline. At Heathrow primary food waste was reduced from 5 bags a day down to 2 once children were asked to wait for 20 minutes. Watch our video with the Headteacher

Knife and fork usage
Lots of children don’t eat their food because they can’t use a knife and fork properly and if they can’t cut food up they end up not eating it. I recommend both Supervisors and older children teach younger children how to use a knife and fork. That doesn’t mean doing it for them. It means showing them how to do it. How to hold the knife securely so the palm of the hand covers the knife handle. The index finger is placed on the fork stem etc. Supervisors need to focus their time on engaging with children and teaching them these important life skills.

Supervisor engagement
If a child has a calm, relaxed and nurturing adult sitting next to them they are much more likely to eat their dinner. It’s important that your Supervisors focus on engaging with the children and don’t spend all their time wiping tables. At Hermitage school in London the Headteacher has banned Supervisors from wiping tables during service so they are forced to engage with the children. Watch our video with the Headteacher.

I appreciate Reception are too young to wipe tables, so I suggest you try and get some Y2s to help with this.

Table Captains
In many schools I have appointed table captains who are not only responsible for clearing the waste but waiting for slow eaters. This is done on a rota basis and is an excellent way of helping to create a caring, supportive and inclusive environment. Watch our video with the Deputy Headteacher at West Lodge


Supervisors can’t introduce all these suggestions without the support of the whole school community (caterers, school leaders, parents and teachers) Getting the schools to prioritise and invest in lunchtime is quite challenging. Perhaps you could ask school leaders to look at a few of our videos and/or if, you are close to London, I could arrange for you to visit one of the schools I have worked with.

I have just launched an online positive behaviour training course for Supervisors which is all about how they build healthy relationships with children. This might be of interest to school leaders as a way of offering your team professional development. I also run half day and one day on site training for Supervisors all over the country.

Kathleen

Hi is it acceptable that one lunch time mid day supervisor is left in the lunch hall with up to 100 children and the only back up is.If things are busy then send a child to the staff room and ask for help.My argument here is I cannot see all the children at the same time whist encouraging the younger year groups to eat their lunch and what ever else occurs like spilt water or a child falling or others messing about at the table.I personally feel this is too much responsibility for one person and its an accident waiting to happen.

Paul Aagaard

If you are managing over 100 children I would suggest two Supervisors in the dining room. However, the children themselves can be hugely helpful and responsible. In the schools I have supported we sit older children on the same table as younger children. They are responsible for helping the younger ones collect their dinner, cut it up, take dirty plates to the waste station and wait for slow eaters. This then frees you up to properly engage with the children. If you have a chaotic service it becomes impossible to manage behaviour so having an extra one or two or even three members of staff in the dining room won't make any difference. The solution is to get school leaders engaged in making whole school changes to lunchtime provision. That includes valuing your role as a teacher of what I call the social curriculum and recognising the dining room needs to be a place children want to eat and socialise in and not a 'corridor to play' between the classroom and the playground. If you want any more help please leave some more comments

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